Thursday, August 13, 2015

I'm Broken: Trainwreck & Monogamy

This is an excellent poster. First, let's start with Amy's dress, because she doesn't wear this in the film. "Yellow," as we know, symbolizes royalty, because yellow is the color of gold, and only royalty can afford gold; it's also the color of cowardice because, if anyone should be brave in a battle, it is the king leading his troops to victory, rather than a king retreating. We see, however, both dimensions of the color being utilized: Amy is a queen, all women are meant to be treated as queens (remember, Steven calls her his "Cross Fit Queen," because that's what he sees her as, a queen)  but, in her cowardice and fear of not being good enough, and that no one is really going to love her, she refuses to get involved with anyone. The dress nearly falling off her demonstrates how Amy dresses throughout the first three-fourths of the film: a whore. Clothes are meant to cover us, not reveal our bodies, but that's not how Amy dresses; she only dresses so she can get undressed. Her hand stretched out is to make sure that we, the viewer, keep our distance; why? Even though sex is the most intimate act that can take place between man and woman, Amy does it totally casual, but the simple acts of bonding terrify her because she doesn't want intimacy or love, so when she spends the night at Aaron's house, and she can feel him breathing on her, she doesn't want any human contact because, in reality, she hates her own humanity, and because she hasn't come to terms with herself being human (because she won't allow anyone to love her, which is the main cause of her being broken, more on this below) she doesn't accept anyone else's humanity, either. The dark nail polish on her fingertips reveals a great deal. Hands symbolize our character. When we first meet someone, we shake their hand and offer our hand in friendship and greeting; when we want to give our word on something, or seal a deal we have made, we shake hands on it; the dark polish acts like death (black symbolizes death) eating away at her character and honor. Now, the bottle of liquor in the brown bag is something that is characteristic of homeless people doing, and there is a homeless character in the film: the Dumpster Guy Amy talks to, and he is a part of Amy's character: Amy herself is homeless because she hasn't found a place for her heart to rest. When she cleans out all her booze and drugs, she gives it to the Dumpster Guy because that is where it belongs, with the part of her that wanted to be homeless and sleeping around, rather than with the person with whom she belongs. Aaron, standing behind her, is half hid because the audience (not you and I, dear reader, but other members of the audience) will only see "half" of Aaron's character in the film, rather than his complete character that is presented (which we will discuss below). The background of gray is always the color of the pilgrim, one who is making journey to learn and expiate sins, and so that is not only Amy herself, but also the viewer, especially those who have lived like Amy. Let's jump to the very end of the film. When Any does the dance with the cheerleaders and then tries to make a basket and misses, she tells Aaron it was a metaphor, and he replies that he got that; but it's also telling us, the viewer, that this is a metaphor and we need to be looking out for other metaphors, like the trampoline: "Most people go up when they bounce on a trampoline, but you went down!" Aaron tells her: this is a metaphor of love and relationships. When most people fall in love, their mood and whole being "goes up," and they are happy and they try to better themselves for the person they love; with Amy, however, she has gone down and gets worse in a relationship because she's pushing the other person away, afraid they will leave her if she doesn't destroy the relationship first. Leaving us with this metaphor is a personal note to the audience to be sure and check their own lives.
There's a rumor in Hollywood: Judd Apatow is the smartest guy around. If you watch his newest film Trainwreck carefully, you're apt to buy into that rumor as actual truth. There are two types of people the film is addressed to: men and women. Without a doubt, there is some raunchy stuff but, as with Get Hard, The Campaign and Ted 2 (and a host of other films of the same sort of comedic line) film makers know there is a certain audience who will go and see this type of film, namely, the type of people who are generally uninformed because they go to these types of films to STAY uninformed; the revenge? Put in some information, and make them watch it, and that information begins in the very first scene.
Gordon is very much a part, or section of Amy's own character because her and Gordon follow "the same pattern" of hooking up and breaking up with people. Gordon dies because he was hoarding his medicine, rather than taking it. Why? Because the real medicine Gordon needed was love, and he was hoarding love, not taking it to rid him of his (real) illness, insulting people and being obnoxious. Amy is sick of the exact same illness and following in her father's footsteps: she, too, is hoarding her medicine, thinking that the way to not get hurt is by never hooking up with a guy, when that is only making her illness worse. What's so sad is, when Aaron stitches up Gordon's eyebrow, and the orderly tells Amy Gordon has hoarded his medicine, Amy--nor anyone else--does anything about it; why? Because that's what happens in real life, people like Amy (and remember, the tagline is, "We all know one,") are surrounded by the medicine (love and friendship) they need to genuinely heal, but they refuse to take it because they have mis-diagnosed their illness. In the case of Gordon, he thinks his illness is that he can't play "with the dollies" he wants, but in reality, that was the illness and his marriage was meant as the cure. When Gordon fell and cut his eyebrow, that was symbolic that his ability to "see" was impaired by his multitude of sins. Because Gordon is a part of Amy's own character she has to overcome, Gordon's fall foreshadows Amy's own fall when Aaron is presented with the Doctors Without Borders award and Amy leaves to take a call. Amy "falls" in this scene because Aaron realizes he can't count on her to be what he needs her to be: supportive, because she herself requires so much support, even though she rejects support. Amy can't "see" how she has messed up and hurt Aaron, and this leads to Amy needing to "stitch" up the relationship with the end scene. 
Gordon, Amy's father, opens the film with announcing to his two small daughters that he and their mother are getting divorced, but he doesn't want them to cry about it, instead, he'll explain it in terms they can understand: you have your dollie, he tells 5-year-old-Amy, and you love your dolly, but what if I told you that was the only dollie you could ever play with again? You wouldn't want that, would you? And their father goes onto comparing cheating on their mother with playing with dolls. What's wrong with this scenario?
Lots of things.
Steven, Amy's kind of boyfriend, provides us with a tragic angle on Amy's illness: "I was going to ask you to marry me," he says. What woman, even if she only half-liked the guy, wouldn't be touched to hear that? Steven's character is artfully handled, because he's shown to be mentally,.... slow. He's not dumb, he's just not real fast, and kind of doesn't get the whole picture, so when he says things like, "You are always causing situations," and "You are always fucked up," "It's not this guy's dream [to sleep around with other women]," it's glaringly obvious that Amy is messed up and sick: as Steven says, "You are not nice." Amy might think she's cool, but being high and drunk all the time doesn't make for anything close to a good person. 
First of all, he ignores that humans have feelings, unlike dolls, and secondly, he centers the feelings on him/Amy, which allows him to completely leave out his wife. Thirdly, he uses the term "play," which regular readers here know is a loaded term: in game theory, a "game" is structured by a set of rules, whereas the concept of "play" is without rules (as in, wedding vows that were publicly taken, or the court of law). So the idea of "playing" exists only in a world without rules, which doesn't exist (remember: when Gordon has come down with MS, we hear that he blames his bad karma, so whatever rules he subscribes to, he does subscribe to a world of rules). The last idea we are going to talk about regarding this scene (although there is more), is how is doesn't "give life" to the dollie used in the example, rather, it dehumanizes his two daughters; how? "Monogamy isn't realistic" girls because you are not worth it. Which leads us to Amy's first "boyfriend."
Now, according to the poster (above) we are only going to see "half" of Aaron: which half is that? He's "the guy" in the love relationship: caring, patient, sweet, generous. All of these things are true, but that's only half the story. He is also white. He's heterosexual. He's a professional. These traits make him the greatest enemy of socialists in America today. Can we say that Aaron is a pro-capitalist figure? Yes. Because he makes so much money in sports medicine, he can afford to donate time and energy to Doctors Without Borders, for which he wins the award. Because there are such things as "$20 million dollar knees," it pays to develop a new kind of knee replacement to help those athletes, and when those athletes are helped, everyone with knee problems are helped. This is the way capitalism is supposed to work and Aaron is a fabulous representation of that. Another aspect of this is sports: socialists hate sports and competition, but Aaron shows how "sports brings people together" and beings out the best in people, which is a rather controversial subject today in America. Let's take a moment to mention the "intervention" that LeBron stages with Chris Everett, Matthew Broderick and Marv Griffin. Griffin states that Broderick has done his "best work since War Games," and this is the second time War Games has been mentioned lately (in Captain America: Winter Soldier, Black Widow asks, "Would you like to play a game?" which is a reference to War Games also). Why? The 1983 film was made during the height of the Cold War and details the confusing of reality with the playing of a game, just as the film might seem like a "game" (a film and entertainment) even though it's making serious social commentary about the direction that men, women and relationships are headed today.
What does Amy tell Steven when they leave the theater and he confronts her about her being with other guys even though he thought they were exclusive? "I thought that was every guy's dream," she said, to be able to sleep around and not have a nagging girlfriend wondering where you are all the time, to have a relationship, but still "play with other dollies." Why is this so important? Most feminists would claim that a woman should be able to be as promiscuous as a man, because she wants to, and no one is allowed to judge her because if they are, those judging are holding false societal "double" standards against her and making her live for someone else, rather than herself; with this drunken and high slip of the tongue, however, Amy reveals that she's sleeping around and doing so because "that's every guy's dream," not because that is what she wants, but because she thinks that is what men want.  That is, to fully work out the equation, the exact opposite of what feminists preach, so Trainwreck derails their agenda, intentionally.
We see clips of a black-and-white film called The Dog Walker throughout Trainwreck (and there are countless other films invoked as well). Why? Well, the "black and white" colorization indicates that it is a "black and white" issue: most romantic films, like The Horse Whisperer that The Dog Walker is making fun of, aren't really romantic at all, and have more to do with our "animal instincts" fulfilling themselves, rather than with us overcoming our animal instincts so we can be more human and love in a more human way. Ask yourself about your favorite romantic movie: is it really about fulfilling of animal instincts for sex and security, or is it about becoming a better person?
Now, what I find dramatic fault with the film, is its position on homosexuality. Trainwreck clearly states that promiscuity is dangerous and detrimental to men and women, making meaningful relationships impossible; when it comes to homosexuality, however, the film seems to be in self-contradiction: "How many women have you been with?" Amy asks Aaron and he replies, "Three." Amy then replies, "I've been with three women, too." Aaron doesn't care that Amy has been with three women, he just wants to know how many men she has been with. It's okay, the film seems to say, for men to be with however many other men, or women to be with however many other women, that's all good and cool, but women can be with too many men, and that's bad. No, that's hypocritical and cowardly: promiscuity is promiscuity, and it doesn't matter that it's same-sex (which is inherently wrong to begin with!) but this is a sad, and disturbing contradiction the film makes that Ted 2 avoided successfully.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
LeBron James does a great job in the film, and we can see his character as a part of Amy, as well as Dumpster Guy, in that James is so cheap about everything. How?  In not wanting to pay for anything, he's hoarding his money, to an absurd proportion, just as Amy hoards love and intimacy to an absurd proportion. What clever film makers do, is show you the same thing several different ways in hopes that at least one of the ways will "stick" and make you realize what is going on. For example, LeBron is the richest basketball player in the game but you wouldn't know it; Amy is the girlfriend of the doctor being awarded at the DWB luncheon, but you wouldn't know it, by the way she dresses, drinks and smokes pot outside (and answers her phone during the ceremony). LeBron's bad money graces translate to Amy's bad social graces.